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Back when I was preparing to marry my wife I had an exchange of emails with my friend Jason, a recent convert to Catholicism. My wife had previously been married and Jason… Jason did not approve of the idea of us getting married. We exchanged ideas on the subject. Jason told me that while it […]

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Racial bias exists in our country. I have friends who have been held at a disadvantage for no other reason than the color of their skin. Even so, “White Privilege” is a misnomer – and even as it has some validity, it is not anywhere near a factor as it’s commonly understood. Taking the argument […]

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This week, in a special segment of “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard are honored to be joined by Kendra Espinoza, lead plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, just decided yesterday, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, and Erica Smith, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, which represented the plaintiffs. Kendra shares what motivated her and her daughters, Naomi and Sarah, to take such a courageous stand for school choice and religious liberty, and describes her experience being the lead plaintiff in a high-profile Supreme Court case. She also discusses the other Montana moms involved in the case, their reaction to the successful outcome, and the realization of the impact it will have on so many families across the country. Erica shares her thoughts on the decision’s wide-ranging constitutional implications; some surprising aspects of the decision that may prompt future legal battles; and a preview of a state-by-state analysis on which states are best positioned to expand access to school choice now.

Story of the Week: Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue case, involving Montana parents who were denied access to a state tax credit program when they sought to use it to send their children to religious schools. The Court held that Montana’s Blaine Amendment cannot be used to exclude religious school parents from the state education tax credit program. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts wrote: “A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Prayer and Loathing on Art Hill

 

Today, my lovely wife and I went to Art Hill, a historic place in St. Louis. Our art museum, one of the many gems in St. Louis, is adorned with a statue of our city’s namesake, King Louis the IX, monarch of France and canonized a saint by the church of Rome.

The statue of King Louis has become controversial of late, as have many monuments to figures meaningful to Western Civilization. While I think it is wise and fruitful to revisit various monuments and consider if they are worth their place, I think the current fever is ridiculous, and not borne of a desire for civic hygiene, but just a means to focus anger in furtherance of political goals.

Faithful Catholics have been gathering there to pray the Rosary. I have friends who are attending and joining their Catholic brothers and sisters. My wife and I joined them at the appointed time Monday evening. Our Catholic friends got right to it.

After a few minutes of reflection, being a protestant I am not familiar with praying the Rosary and out of respect I would not even try. I did see a few men off in the corner standing respectfully, not kneeling, and not holding a set of beads.

We approached them and quietly asked if they were protestant, and if so would they join with us. Lacking a tradition as old and rich as the Rosary, we fell back into the evangelical mnemonic of ACTS. We each prayed, offering an adoration of God, a confession of sin, a prayer of thanksgiving, and a supplication. My brothers and my wife each spoke in turn, a bit more freeform than the Rosary, but I think fairly disciplined for evangelicals.

All of us gathered in the gloaming, in the shadow of St. Louis, praying for peace, for unity, for hope…I really have no idea what the mind of a person praying the Rosary does, as I have not ever done it. I do know I was moved. I felt the Spirit of the True and Living God among us.

We protestants sang, quietly, “Bind us Together” as we closed up about the time our friends finished “Ave Maria” on their second round of three. We then quietly parted, and my wife and I continued to pray quietly.

Our current troubles are troubles of the human heart and all its capacity for darkness. I think politically motivated persons are using a legitimate issue to pursue illegitimate ends. While politics is an important field, and the faithful should participate, I think our best battleground is the few square feet we occupy when we humble ourselves before our God and ask for his intervention.

Tonight I learned the value of a statue of a flawed historical figure. To the purely rational mind, it may seem silly to risk conflict over a statue. Nevertheless, consider the witness of the previous Saturday. A friend describes some very obnoxious conduct – heckling and profanity – from a vocal crowd there to jeer at the supplicants. Undeterred and unprovoked, our Catholic neighbors in attendance piously kneeled and began to pray, led by a priest who had come from our sister town of Kansas City. As the priest-led laity cycled through their obligation, the heckling crowd became quiet, then silent. For 90 minutes (I believe) they prayed.

In the end, a substantial number of hecklers stayed, relieved of their animus, and a meaningful conversation broke out among the opposed groups. Those of us who believe in this sort of thing know that the Spirit of the Living God will bring peace, and I believe this happened. If even one of these taunting people finds peace with God from the experience, then the world will be a better place for the piety of the men and women who, in the quest to save a statue discovered lost sheep along the journey, and gained a story of the presence of the Divine.

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I heard of a family that had moved, not without problems, into a new school district. A teenage son had been an excellent student but now he was flunking. My informant added, without actually claiming a connection, that the move was motivated by a desire to do missionary work. That is, or so I inferred, […]

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Brothers and sisters, we are responsible to safeguard these sacred freedoms and rights for ourselves and our posterity. What can you and I do? First, we can become informed. Be aware of issues in your community that could have an impact on religious liberty. More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Swimming the Bosporus: From the Megachurch to Orthodoxy

 

Simonopetra Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece.
I was received into the Orthodox Church yesterday.

It’s been a long time coming. I first attended a Greek Orthodox service about two-and-a-half years ago, another at a Russian Orthodox parish a couple of months after that, and a third two months later. I’ve been attending that Antiochian Orthodox church ever since. Today, I’m officially a member.

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Rob Long is in for Jim again Thursday. Today, Rob and Greg applaud Seattle businesses for suing the city for failing to provide essential services while local politicians coddled the radicals in the CHAZ/CHOP area. They also react to revelations in Peter Strzok’s notes that Barack Obama and Joe Biden were in on the planning to target Michael Flynn and the Trump administration. And they unload on leftist radicals and their enablers as what supposedly started as an effort to rein in police brutality is now focused on tearing down a statue celebrating emancipation, destroying Mount Rushmore, and changing our national anthem.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Providence

 

During my stay in another state, I was offered my host’s only housekey to use while he was at work. The arrangement was not usually a bother because we gathered at another place in the evenings before returning together to his home.

One day, the weather cooled unexpectedly — enough that I decided to return for an extra shirt. The drive to his house took about 20 minutes. There in the driveway was my host, only just arriving himself. He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him. He was in a hurry to retrieve a forgotten item and had expected he would need to climb through a low window to get inside without his house key. (He could have phoned, but apparently thought it a minor inconvenience — not worth bothering me about.) I unlocked the door with his key, saving him the trouble.

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Rob Long is in for Jim Geraghty again. He and Greg rip into far left activist Shaun King for wanting all “European” depictions of Jesus torn down and discuss that the real target of many on the far left is not just religious artwork but the church itself. They also weigh in on why many police are doing nothing to stop the vandalism and destruction of statues and monuments and they address the political debate arising on the right about whether the police ought to clamp down and protect these properties or whether images of endless rioting are going to lead to more votes for Republicans in November. And they have fun with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who did nothing about rioting but is now on the warpath against illegal fireworks dealers.

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First thing…whatever we decide to do with any given statue, we need to stop the vandalism and destruction of property, and those self-indulgent rioters should be charged with property crimes at a bare minimum. We cannot have a functioning society where we allow vandals to run amok. This is already a weapon being used for […]

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“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Book Review: ‘Strange Rites – New Religions for a Godless World’

 

Poll after poll demonstrates declines in religious observance in the United States today, especially in the Millennial age cohort. Some faiths and denominations are declining more quickly than others, with a few holding steady. Are people ceasing to believe any higher powers, or is something else at work? Tara Isabella Burton examines this issue in her new book, Strange Rites – New Religions for a Godless World, just out within the last week. Ms. Burton makes the argument that while adherence to traditionally recognized faiths (particularly Christianity) has declined precipitously, human beings still have a need to believe that the world is “enchanted” and human beings still need the community that shared rituals can offer. So even as adherence to particular faiths is declining, new religions are emerging to fill spiritual longings. Ms. Burton terms this the “Fourth Great Awakening.”

However, these new spiritual practices are at once radically different from anything that gone before, and yet radically American in their forms and ethos. They are also radically self-centered. Her basic thesis is this: the internet provides access to information on practically anything imaginable, and quickly connects like-minded people over any niche interest, allowing us to pick and choose our friends beyond the limited physical circles we have been limited to in the past, but this also allows us to concentrate ourselves, our interests, and our desires, creating a world of information and practice uniquely tuned to ourselves. In short, we can each pick and choose our own practices, rituals, and relationships, creating “remixed” faiths, and it is the “Remixed” whose worlds Ms. Burton illuminates.

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National Review Online Contributing Editor Rob Long joins Greg today to serve up your end-of-the-week martinis. First, they get a kick out of Amy Klobuchar taking herself out of the Biden veepstakes when it was already pretty clear she would not be the choice, but they also appreciate her kneecapping Elizabeth Warren’s chances by saying the running mate should be a woman of color. But that gets complicated too, as Rob and Greg react to Black Lives Matter and National Action Network figures suggesting Florida Rep. Val Demings is not really black because she used to be a police officer. And they unpack a lefty blogger’s contention that conservatives should not be able to teach, coach, or be a boss of any kind because they supposedly don’t believe in equality.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

What Did the Federalist Society Know and When Did They Know It?Should we? I’ve come across some evidence that troubles me. Gorsuch’s views on LGBT issues weren’t some nuclear secret, locked in a vault. They were on clear display in a previous ruling he made back in 2008. That case, Kastl v. Maricopa County, concerned […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Atheist and the Acorn

 

This starts with a joke. Not a particularly good one, but perhaps the novelty will save the humor. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard it told.

An atheist is arguing with a priest as they walk through a grove of trees. “How can you believe in a God who created such a disordered universe? Look at these mighty oak trees. See the tiny acorns they produce. And yet the massive pumpkin grows on a feeble vine. If I had designed the world that situation would be corrected, let me tell you.”

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Join Jim and Greg as they cheer Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley for calling out the Supreme Court’s recent judicial activism but also for upbraiding legislators for being too fearful to take up difficult issues and leaving them to the courts to resolve. They also slam NBC for attempting to get Google to deplatform The Federalist and Zero Hedge – largely based on objectionable content in the comments section. And they discuss NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suddenly encouraging teams to sign Colin Kaepernick.

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